This generation of gaming has been owned by Sony so far. Unless you’re paying close attention to news reports and conference announcements, there always seems to be a bit of detailed information a lot of gamers seem to miss and complain about later. The problem weaves it’s way with misinformation that makes its way to the ears of gamers. Fanboys of either system or not these comments rarely find their way in the fact check meter of consoles. Just this past June a friend of mine who is a self-admitted Sony fan asked why I owned an Xbox One when they don’t allow you to play used games and you always have to be online. Yes, this happened in June of 2016. As new consoles launch I’m convinced people hear what they want to hear and don’t have an interest in digging deeper into the details. The Sony conference which formerly announced the PS4 Pro and Slim left a lot of details out and it’s important to know what you’re getting into. The last couple weeks have been a rough couple weeks for the Sony PS4 and while Sony has a record of being cryptic in their messaging, let’s see what the future holds for us in the Slim and PS4 Pro.
Sony PS4 Slim (what’s different?)
It’s important to note that Sony’s PS4 models have been upgraded a few times internally and externally since launch. You may have heard a lot of the improvements regarding fan noise. Sony has actually reduced the sound of their fan noise since launch. The 40% reduction in sound is actually based off their launch console which is model number CUH-1000. CUH-1000, 1100 and 1200 have all had subtle changes that the average consumer may not realize. Heat sinks have been updated, fan noise reduced, rear inputs have been moved around and even the power buttons slightly edited with an actual button compared to touch.
So where does that leave us with the Sony PS4 slim? Here’s what’s actually new, specific to hardware.
-While not a huge jump from CUH-1200(less than 20% quieter) it is quieter than the launch console by 40%.
-the optical port is completely gone
-a new updated USB 3.1 port
-5GHZ wifi now possible
-new Dualshock controller included
-new option to buy 1TB console
Notice how it being faster is not mentioned. That’s because the console has the same processor and GPU internally. There have been claims that it is a faster console when it actually isn’t. Benchmark testing has shown both consoles to be nearly identical in speed. You’re not actually getting a faster console.
What’s the difference visually?
-Console no longer has a light bar going down the middle. You are given a tiny “light bar” on the power button to let you know that the console is on
-console is now fully matte black
– Original ps4-11 inches wide, 2 inches tall and 12 inches long. Slim-10 inches by 1.5 inches by 11 inches.
How do I feel about the new Slim? I can appreciate a new look from the standard PS4 and if I was looking to purposely have the latest and greatest and didn’t own a PS4 prior I would get it. But, if I already had a PS4 and was happy with it what’s the real reason to “upgrade”? If you already own the MGS console(CUH-1200) you have the latest PS4 prior to the Slim. The exclusion of the optical port may affect your headphone situation. The best thing you’re getting from the new Slim is not the size, not the matte look and not the new power buttons. It’s the reduced fan noise and the 5GHZ Wi-Fi ability. Dating back to the launch of the PS4 I always wondered why 5GHZ Wi-Fi was not part of the launch package. Simply put, if you already own a PS4 and don’t care for the PS4 Pro or how the console looks in your living space there really isn’t a reason to upgrade. If you haven’t purchased a PS4 yet and aren’t looking for the PS4 Pro the Slim is the one to get. The price of the Slim is $300 for 500GB and $350 for 1TB.
Sony PS4 Pro (What is it all about)
Dating back to E3 this past year it was immediately a concern of mine when Sony changed their mind on announcing the Pro due to the console MS announced. A part of me wondered if Sony would change specs or even their aim with the Pro. It appears that Sony stuck with what the Pro was originally going to be.
So what are the basic details?
-Upgraded GPU, double the power
-4k support both native and upscaled
-Boosted Clock Rate (specific to processor)
-1TB Hard Drive as standard
I’d like to start this next section by stating that a lot of the success with the PS4 Pro depends on what gaming and viewing content in 4K and HDR will depend on the consumer and more importantly the developers of the new content. Timing plays an important role here because many people don’t have a 4K TV or even a TV that can play/view HDR properly. Sony was very careful to include messaging that what you’re seeing is only compatible with 4K and HDR supported TV’s. They also mentioned many times that it’ll be up to the developers to improve on software.
What’s PS4 Pro Enhanced?
Here’s the tricky part of this design by Sony. I’ve already seen a lot of misinformation on this topic. The misinformation appears to be in the thought that all software will get bumps in performance with 4K and HDR. A very important detail here is that it’ll depend solely on the developer of the game in order to get any support. It begs the question on what is a developer to do with the “normal” version of their game vs the enhanced. Sony was careful in their conference to state that 1st party software will be the main adopter for now, while third party cross platform developers may take longer.
Existing and upcoming software may also get special treatment with upscaling to 4K and HDR support. The keyword there is upscaling, keep in mind this is different from Native 4K and should never be compared. Sony has recently admitted that the majority of their games will not be Native 4K.
Sony has stated that a TV lacking 4K support and HDR will still benefit from the Pro. Many people think a lot of the PS4’s games run in 1080P when a lot of them don’t. Sony claims that the console will give you true 1080P gaming and potentially better frames per second if you are on the Pro. I can’t stress enough that this will depend on the developer and they decide to patch already existing software.
Below is a list of confirmed software some sort of 4K upscaling and/or HDR. (Again, this is developer based not across the board):
- Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
- Days Gone
- Death Stranding
- Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
- Dishonored 2
- Final Fantasy 15
- For Honor
- Horizon: Zero Dawn
- Infamous Second Son/First Light
- Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
- Killing Floor 2
- Mass Effect: Andromeda
- Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered
- PES 2017
- Resident Evil 7
- Rise of the Tomb Raider
- Spider-Man (Insomniac)
- The Last of Us
- Uncharted 4
- Watch Dogs 2
Supported Video Apps for PS4 Pro
Not much detail has been given here and it’s a sign of where we are in the industry with 4K available media. Sony stated that Netflix will have 600 hours of 4K media before the end of the year and that YouTube is working on an app that will allow for 4K media. Will Netflix increase monthly rate for 4k media? How does that affect people with limits on bandwidth at home?
Not many details have been explained about what the future of VR gaming holds and if a Pro will be the console to play VR on. Sony VR will be available on all consoles this generation. During the conference Sony stated that VR played on the Pro will have double the pixel count. I leave this peripheral in the TBD column.
In all of the media surrounding the PS4 Pro I’ve heard a lot of negativity. A lot of it really makes sense and more than anything I feel a lot of people are wondering what Sony is doing with their PS4 brand at this time in this generation. My biggest concern about the PS4 Pro is who is it really for? And if you are an existing PS4 owner why would you upgrade to the Pro? Think about it this way… If you don’t have a PS4 why would you get a Slim? The 1TB Slim is $50 cheaper than the standard PS4 Pro with the same hard drive space. For $50 more you get the Pro. If you already own the original PS4 why would you go to the Pro when software isn’t really abundant and you already get the HDR patch?
Educating yourself in the current time of gaming is going to be really important. Do you have a 4K TV? Does your TV have HDR support? If it does what’s the input lag when HDR is turned on vs off? If you don’t have a 4K and HDR TV how much will it cost you to jump into it?
I have no doubt that the PS4 Pro is the better buy in 2016 between the Slim and Pro. I do have my doubts that it’s worth the rush to pick one up at this time though. The software doesn’t exist for one yet. VR is still in its infancy and it’s to be determined if software releases that makes people buy the peripherals for it. If you’re upgrading from a PS3 it may be the best option for you, as you don’t want to buy a Slim and then wish you had a Pro a year or two from now. It’s just very unfortunate that the power of the Pro is right around an average PC gaming rig today and it hasn’t even released yet. It seems that the Sony PS4 has future proofed itself until spring of 2017…